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THE HORROR, THE HORROR: What is Horror?

June 6, 2012

I’ve been on a year-long adventure, and whilst it’s not fraught with the physical risks and perils detailed throughout UA, it has nonetheless been exhilarating, exhausting and incredibly rewarding. I wish I could tell you that I’d been backpacking around the world, fighting off all sorts of exotic creatures and mountain climbing with one hand, whilst carrying a Guy N. Smith approved rifle in the other, but alas my story is a little different…

I’m a life long horror fan that wants to see the genre treated with the respect and seriousness it deserves. There are too many outside the genre who believe that at best horror is a cheap art form, not worthy of brushing shoulders with ‘higher’ forms of entertainment, and at worst a stepping stone. There is also the misconception that horror is restricted to gore, monsters and cheap sex.  One need only look as far as Adam Nevill’s great outdoors tome The Ritual, Kaaron Warren’s terrifying Slights or Thomas Ligotti’s stunning short story collection Teatro Grotessco to rebut such a narrow-minded belief.

Above all else, I wanted to see horror fiction covered in-depth rather than brushed to the sidelines in magazines. It’s not fair on the authors that are busting their ass on the craft day in day out, and it’s an absolute injustice to the readers that miss out for lack of information.

With a passion for horror in my heart and a pen in my hand, I wrote to the new horror magazine on the block, Scream, and offered them bi-monthly fiction reviews. It quickly became apparent that the demand for horror fiction coverage exceeded magazine space, thus horror fiction website Read Horror spawned in April, followed four months later by the film branch See Horror. The support from the horror community has been incredible. Not only have I met some of the most talented people in the industry, but I’ve also met some of the most generous people I have known in my life. And it’s this shared passion and generosity that pushes me forward to better the – already not inconsiderable – Read Horror and See Horror readership. The next phase in my journey is an exciting one – This Is Horror is an amalgamation of both websites providing a complete horror experience for readers.

With credentials (or lack thereof) out of the way, make a note of Friday January 20 in your diaries as This Is Horror are presenting a genre fiction evening with China Mieville, Mark Morris and Joseph D’Lacey. This comes fresh off the back of the Halloween Horror Night where readers were treated to the likes of David Moody, Adam Nevill and Gary McMahon.

Speaking of David, the concluding part to his Hater series Them Or Us and the latest instalment in his zombie apocalypse chronicles Autumn: Disintegration have just hit the shelves. With Wayne Simmons’ sequels to Flu and Drop Dead Gorgeous coming our way in February and March, undead fans have a lot of fresh flesh to sink their teeth into. Other upcoming releases include Simon Bestwick’s The Faceless, Christopher Fowler’s Hell Train and Sarah Pinborough’s The Chosen Seed.

If ever there was a horror movie that tried to embody a sense of thrill seeking into its deaths it’s Final Destination. All manner of vehicles have sent passengers to their gruesome demise in the franchise that Glen Morgan and Jeffrey Riddick penned over a decade ago. It’s made national news recently after The Advertising Standards Authority banned a poster for Final Destination 5

depicting a shattered skull with steel rods driven through the mouth and eye sockets. For my money, the cover is no more or less frightening than any other horror film doing the rounds. Indeed the real cause for alarm is that it’s the fifth in the series. The horror films making it into the cinema are the safe sequels that guarantee ticket sales but do little in the way of stimulating imagination or delivering originality. There are now seven Saw films, and whilst I thought the first was a worthy addition to the genre it’s ran its course and kept on running. Hellraiser, now in its ninth instalment has fallen so far from grace that Clive Barker announced via Twitter, “I have nothing to do with the f***ing thing. If they claim it’s from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butt-hole.”

Still it’s not all bad news, The Woman in Black, based on Susan Hill’s novel, is due to hit cinemas in February and I live in hope that John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Handling the Undead – in development since 2005 – will turn up eventually. In the meantime, get out the VHS and revisit some of the classics, let’s face it they urinate all over the remakes.

Michael Wilson is the Editor and Owner of horror website This Is Horror.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. dysfunctiondrew permalink
    June 6, 2012 4:54 pm

    Lovely, just lovely!

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